De Gea left to wait in the wings as United consider Falcao's future
David de Gea's contractual situation at Manchester United could remain unresolved until the summer with the club facing the distraction of prioritising a decision on Radamel Falcao's long-term future.
Spanish goalkeeper De Gea has emerged as a target for European champions Real Madrid after overcoming his initial struggles at United to become one of the leading 'keepers in the Premier League.
But despite the 24-year-old's United contract having less than 18 months to run before it expires in June 2016, efforts to tie De Gea to a new long-term deal remain at a preliminary stage.
De Gea has been assured by United he will remain their No 1 'keeper despite confirmation yesterday that Victor Valdes, the former Barcelona goalkeeper, had signed on a free transfer.
United are, however, coming under pressure from Falcao's representatives to sign off a permanent deal for the Colombian forward on completion of his season-long loan from Monaco - a situation that risks delaying the acceleration of talks with De Gea.
A £43.2 million transfer fee has already been agreed with Monaco, with personal terms also agreed with the player, should United manager Louis van Gaal sanction the purchase of Falcao in the summer.
Despite Falcao struggling to make a case for a permanent move to United, the 28-year-old having scored just three goals during his injury-interrupted first four months at Old Trafford, it is understood that the player's camp are keen for the club to commit to a full transfer this month.
Senior figures at United have made it clear that no decision will be made on Falcao until the end of the season - when the club must signal their intentions to Monaco - due to a determination to give the former Porto and Atletico Madrid player every opportunity to prove his worth following the cruciate ligament injury, suffered while playing in France last January, which forced him to miss last year's World Cup.
However, with Falcao and De Gea both represented by Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes, reaching an agreement on Falcao has become the more pressing issue due to the short-term nature of his deal with United.
Although Falcao has overcome his fitness problems to start in all of United's last five fixtures, scoring twice in that run, Van Gaal has yet to be convinced of the merits of signing the player permanently for a fee which would be second only to the £59.7m spent on Angel Di Maria in terms of the club's biggest-ever transfers.
And while United are prepared to be patient with Falcao, they also insist they remain "relaxed" over De Gea's future. United will offer the 'keeper a lucrative contract to stay, despite an acceptance that De Gea's links to the city of his birth would make Real a tempting proposition.
Although De Gea and his family have settled well in Manchester, the player's girlfriend, the Spanish pop star Edurne Garcia Almagro, continues to be based in Madrid, where she is also hosting a TV show.
United believe that a deal will still be struck with De Gea, however, and the return to favour of Spain 'keeper Iker Casillas at Real is likely to boost the prospects of De Gea extending his stay. (© Daily Telegraph, London)